18: Brunch

Spock emerged from the bathroom to a complex conglomeration of aromas, all tantalizing. The sight of McCoy bustling around the table with his shirtsleeves rolled up was also tantalizing, though for a different appetite. The somewhat shy smile the doctor flashed him put an answering smile on Spock’s face before he knew it.

“This smells wonderful, Leonard. Is there anything I can do to assist you?”

“Nope, we’re all set — oh, I’ll just grab the salad from the fridge. Go ahead, sit down.”

Spock looked over the dishes as he waited. The quiche was still piping hot from the oven; the biscuits he surmised were being kept warm in the basket, wrapped in a checkered cloth; and a pot of thick, creamy soup sat in the middle of the table, sending up tendrils of pungent steam.

“You’re lucky I went shopping the other day,” McCoy said while setting down their individual bowls of salad. “I found all the ingredients for my grandma’s favorite no-fail recipes. The gravy is my own concoction, though. It goes on the biscuits — that is, if you’d like some.”

Spock noticed that McCoy was blushing, his hands fluttering nervously as he passed out the utensils. “Of course, Leonard. I am sure everything is as good as it smells.” He placed a hand on McCoy’s before he could knock something over. “Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I had no idea that you were a cook.”

“Oh! No, I’m not a—a cook. I just like to know where my food came from… rather than getting something scrambled from the atoms up. You want coffee?”

“Yes, please.” Spock preferred tea but he wasn’t about to put McCoy to any more trouble. He served out wedges of the quiche onto both their plates and waited until his host had returned with the mugs of coffee.

“Go ahead, start eating… no need to be so formal,” McCoy said, noticing that Spock had yet to pick up his fork. He sat down and helped himself to a biscuit, then split it before pouring the gravy on. “I don’t know what sort of thing you’re used to eating for breakfast; I hope this is all right.”

“It’s delicious, Leonard,” Spock said sincerely, having just taken his first bite of the quiche. “You are a man of many talents.”

McCoy blushed crimson, emitting pulses of EMBARRASSED-EMBARRASSED-HAPPY as he tucked into the food, hungry from the night’s exertions, every so often stealing a glance at Spock as though to make sure he was enjoying his food as much as he claimed to be — or else that he was really there.

Spock discovered that he liked the gravy, since it was spicy without being overly so, but he preferred McCoy’s other recommended method of eating the light, buttery biscuits: with honey. To his dismay the honey seemed to drip everywhere, leaving trails of sticky sweetness, but when McCoy started sucking it off of Spock’s fingers, laughing and teasing, the Vulcan experienced a novel mixture of surprise, humor, and arousal. Although the emotions were similar to what McCoy was feeling, Spock could tell that they were his own. He marveled at how blissful he felt. He wanted to return his lover’s actions and lick McCoy’s fingers, but since his were not covered in honey, Spock leaned in to kiss his cheek instead.

“Wh—What was that for?” McCoy asked with a dazed expression.

“A token of my appreciation,” Spock replied. “I cannot adequately express how delightful this is.”

McCoy stared at him, observing Spock as though expecting to find some deception behind his words, but of course there was none. He tried to sort through the tangled mess of his feelings and thoughts — Spock could feel his fear of failure and disbelief fighting with his gladness — but in the end, he gave up on words and simply kissed Spock’s hand on each knuckle. The tingle of electricity conveyed by McCoy’s lips danced like St. Elmo’s Fire on the surface of Spock’s skin, starting a restless fluttering in his stomach. Spock felt a deep-seated desire growing within him to be closer to his lover in a way that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with intimacy; he wished, illogically, that their bodies could be fused as one so that there would be no space — no air, even — to separate them. The only thing he could do was move his chair closer, which he did. McCoy’s smile was genuine and unclouded at last.

“God, I could eat you up,” he mumbled.

“Cannibalism is generally frowned upon by the Federation,” Spock returned, dead-pan.

“Aww, dammit — you know what I mean!”

Spock allowed himself a small chuckle. “If you mean you could spend the entire day doing nothing more than gazing into the windows of each other’s souls, I completely concur.”

“You read my mind, didn’t you?”

“On the contrary, I merely read my own aloud.” Since McCoy still had not released his right hand, Spock picked up his fork with his left. “However, it would be a shame for your wonderful cooking to grow cold and remain uneaten.”

“Yeah….” McCoy kissed the back of Spock’s hand once more and finally let it go. “But in case you’re wondering, you’re getting me for dessert!”

Before Spock could ascertain the definition of “dessert” in this context, the door chime rang.

“Who the hell…?” McCoy began, getting up to hit the button on the console recessed into the counter.

“Hey, Bones! You home?”

“Jim! Yeah, come on in.”

One more press of a button and Jim strode through the door, wearing his dress uniform and a worried look. “I just went to Spock’s room and—” He broke off as he saw Spock sitting at the table. “Hey! You’re here!

“Uh… yes.” Spock exchanged a quick glance with McCoy. “You were looking for me?”

“Well, yeah! I went to the hospital to check on you, and they said you’d been released, but then you weren’t in your quarters so I was—well, never mind. Bones… you cooked!” The last word was pronounced accusingly.

“Yeah, I’ve been known to do that on occasion,” McCoy drawled, already walking into the kitchen to grab another plate. “There’s plenty to go around so you might as well sit down.”

“You sure?” Jim asked while settling into a chair. “I mean, I already ate breakfast….”

“A nutrition bar is not breakfast,” McCoy insisted, setting the plate down in front of him.

“Thanks, Mom,” Jim teased, then turned to Spock. “So… how are you feeling?”

“I am… feeling fine. I’m sorry to have caused you concern.”

“Nothing serious, then?”

“Not that we could tell,” McCoy interjected. “I’ve put him on medical leave for a couple of days, just to be sure. I’ll let you know if I think it needs to be extended.”

“Well, you don’t have to rush to get back to work. There’s nothing going on right now that we can’t handle without you. Aw, thanks!” Jim added as McCoy set a mug of coffee in front of him. “Ah… nectar of the gods!” he said after a sip, then popped a chunk of biscuit into his mouth. “Mmm! Grandma’s no-fail recipe! The best!

“You bet your ass it is,” McCoy agreed with a wry smile. “This gravy’s new, though. See what you think.”

“You tampered with Grandma’s recipe?” Jim demanded, pretending to be aghast. “Bones! How could you?”

“Just try it before you go snitching on me,” Bones retorted as he poured a ladleful onto Jim’s plate. “If I hadn’t said anything, you might not’ve noticed.”

Dutifully Jim shoveled a mouthful in, chewing with a look of serious concentration before swallowing. “It’s good… although it’s not the same. I think I would’ve noticed, but I’m not sure….” He glanced at Spock and smacked himself on the forehead. “Of course! No meat! You made it vegetarian.”

“Yeah, I used cream of mushroom soup and added sausage seasonings. I ground mushrooms with some hard tofu and fried them to add the texture. Not bad for a spur-of-the-moment idea, if I do say so myself.”

“It really is not bad, and that’s saying something because I know the original.” Jim helped himself to a piece of quiche, then told Spock, “I don’t think I could’ve made it through the Academy without Bones’ homemade breakfasts on the weekends. One of the perks of rooming with him.”

“Indeed. I can see why,” Spock remarked, shooting a brief smile at McCoy and making him blush.

“By the way, Spock, you might want to consider taking some of your vacation time now,” Jim began. “I mean, it’s as good a time as any, and… well, I should tell you that Uhura flipped out when she heard what happened to you yesterday. That’s part of the reason why I came looking for you — she didn’t feel like she could take time off to check on you, since you two… y’know… aren’t together now, but when Sulu told her you’d passed out and had to be transported directly to medical, she just about hyperventilated. I thought we’d have to transport her to the hospital too.”

Spock paled and set down his fork at the mention of her name. “I had not thought to call her… to reassure her of my safety.” He nearly asked McCoy if he could use his room comm, then realized that Uhura would know where the call originated from, which gave him pause.

“Don’t worry about it,” Jim said, interrupting his thoughts. “I’ll let her know you’re all right when I get back. No need to, um… muddy the waters, right? I know these things can get a little… messy.”

“You would know,” McCoy put in dryly, earning him a playful punch in the arm.

“Hey, now! I resemble that.”

McCoy rolled his eyes. “Dammit, Jim, that’s the oldest joke in the book.”

“Whaaat? It’s a classic.” Jim laughed and resumed eating. “So… Bones. What big plans do you have for your day off? Tell me you’re at least going to go out somewhere instead of holing up here on your couch with a blanket and a book.”

“As a matter of fact, I am going to hole up here with a blanket and a good book. I may even make myself a blanket fort, you never know,” McCoy retorted testily.

“C’mon, Bones — live a little! That new girl in Logistics would probably go out with you if you asked. Take her to a museum or something.”

“What, you mean the blonde? Are you out of your hillbilly mind? She’s just come out of the Academy! Why, she’s practically young enough to be my daughter!

Jim looked up at the ceiling as he calculated. “Only if you had a baby when you were fourteen, which would mean you were sexually active at the tender age of thirteen?” He squinted and pointed at McCoy with his fork for emphasis.

“I meant theoretically… medically,” McCoy grumbled. “Just eat your biscuits and quit trying to set me up with infants!”

Jim rolled his eyes and turned to Spock for backup, but he was surprised to see the Vulcan’s face cast down and his lips pursed together. “Spock, you all right?”

A moment passed before Spock answered, a mask of imperturbability sliding into place. “Yes, Jim, I am perfectly fine.” The greenish tint to his cheeks belied his words.

“You sure? Not to be rude, but you don’t look fine.”

“Spock, do you need to lie down?” McCoy asked as well, standing up to assist him if necessary.

“Gentlemen, please,” Spock said, trying to brush off their attention. “I had a momentary bout, but it has passed. Captain, we have ascertained that my medical issues have stemmed from some… psychological difficulties,” he explained. “Had I finished the rite of kolinahr while still on Vulcan, purging all emotions, I might have been able to avoid these issues, but it is useless to speculate now. Suffice it to say, I am still able to overcome these… brief fluctuations… given some time. The best assistance you can give me is to allow me a moment of peace until I can reestablish control.”

“All right… if you’re sure,” Jim said, though his expression remained concerned. “Bones, maybe your blanket fort isn’t such a bad idea….”

“Yeah. Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on him today. Both eyes as much as I can spare them.”

As they resumed eating, their conversation turned to work and the progress on the new Enterprise, for which Spock was grateful. When Jim had suggested taking the girl on a date to McCoy, a bilious wave of jealousy had overtaken Spock so suddenly that for a moment he had been drowned. He had struggled to resurface, with the aid of McCoy’s protestations, but at Jim’s insinuation that McCoy had been sexually active at a young age, the deluge of emotions had threatened to overwhelm him again. Despite McCoy’s denial, it had forced Spock to face the fact that his lover must have been involved with other partners — and not just his ex-wife — in the past.

“I have never felt such jealousy before,” Spock mused while the other two men chatted. “Perhaps I am also feeling possessive of him because we have mated. Perhaps, were he an empath also, McCoy would be sensing the same pulses of ‘MINE-MINE-MINE’ emanating from me.”

His inner tumult had been calmed, however, by the even more powerful waves of WORRY-WORRY-CONCERN-HEAL that had washed over him when McCoy had drawn near. Knowing how much his lover truly cared for him had been the perfect antidote to the green-eyed monster. As Jim reached for another piece of quiche, Spock caught McCoy’s eye to give him a reassuring smile and was gratified to see his lover smile back at him in relief and obvious warmth. Spock hoped that the blanket fort which McCoy was planning to build would have room enough for him as well. The probability, at least in his estimate, was favorably high.

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